July 29, 2016
Celebrating friendships built on fashion
The first thing my friend Crystal said to me when we met was ‘I like your bag’. We were freshers at university, and I had spent two weeks pretending to like my housemates while despairing over who I would hang out with for the next three years.
We were both out drinking with friends – a weird twist of fate that my friend from college was in the same halls as her friend from college – when she started talking to me.
At first I thought she’d be too cool for me. She had tattoos and was from London, I had a stuffed toy and was from the Midlands.
But she invited me round for dinner and we bonded over cheesy carbs and cheap rosé. Over the next few weeks we found that mutual friends wasn’t all we shared – half of our wardrobe was identical too. It began to seem like maybe we weren’t so different after all; clothes say a lot about someone and who they are.
Soon we were doing everything together. In our second year we volunteered at a charity shop and during our first shift we saw a pair of boots on sale – lace up, black suede, size 6. We both tried them on and we both loved them. We shared those boots throughout the rest of our time at uni, until they eventually fell apart.
Our friendship fared better than the boots. Since then we’ve travelled together, lived together and danced together. I’ve sat with her while she cried through break ups, and she made me toast when I was too sad to eat. We’ve shared books, and moaned about jobs, and talked about idols. And through all that time we’ve got dressed together, chosen outfits together, and shopped together.
She is the only person I shop with, really. Anyone can tell me if an outfit looks fine, but she can tell me whether it looks right. Clothes are about deciding how you want the world to see you, and she understands who I want to be.
So for the past eight years our fashion has charted our friendship. Most of our clothes even have names – the 25th-birthday-dress, the date-with-Callum-skirt, the San-Francisco-top – because they’re our memories, too.
Now in our mid-twenties we cringe at the mini dresses and waist belts that basically became our uniform through university (this summer we’ve both bought almost exclusively midi length and longer), but we still share almost exactly the same style.
Last week she showed me a skirt she got from Mango. Navy blue, midi, pleated. It was, I told her, the skirt of my dreams. ‘Go and get it’ she said, with the air of a lover telling their partner to go and live out their dream, ‘it’s only 20 quid.’
By Natalie Littlewood